Tom Leighton

Tom Leighton

Professor of Applied Mathematics

Phone: (617) 253-3662

Office: 2-444, 32-G594


Theoretical Computer Science, Combinatorics


Tom Leighton is a Professor of Applied Mathematics and a member of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at MIT. In 1998, he co-founded Akamai Technologies, where he is currently the CEO and a member of the Board of Directors.

Professor Leighton is a preeminent authority on algorithms for network applications, and has published over 100 papers on algorithms, cryptography, parallel architectures, distributed computing, combinatorial optimization, and graph theory. He also holds numerous patents involving content delivery, Internet protocols, algorithms for networks, cryptography, and digital rights management.

He received his B.S.E. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Princeton in 1978, and his Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from MIT in 1981, under the direction of Gary Miller. He joined the MIT Mathematics faculty in 1982, and became Professor in 1989.

Professor Leighton has served on numerous governmental, industrial and academic committees. From 2003-05, he served as Chair of the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee on Cyber Security. His many distinctions include the IEEE Babbage Award, the MIT Entrepreneurship Award, the ACM-SIGACT Distinguished Service Prize, and being named as a member of the Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange (MITX) Innovators Hall of Fame and one of the Ten Top Technology Innovators by US News and World Report. Professor Leighton is a Fellow (and Member of the Trust) of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, a Fellow of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, and a Member of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences. In 2014 he was elected to the Massachusetts Academy of Sciences. In 2016, the Graduate School Council awarded Professor Tom Leighton, jointly with Michael Sipser, the Irwin Sizer Award, for most significant improvements to MIT Education. -- in particular, for their development of the highly successful 18C major: Mathematics with Computer Science.

In 2017, Tom Leighton was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for Content Delivery Network methods, that he co-invented with his former student and collaborator Danny Lewin, who was also inducted posthumously. In 2018, Leighton received the Marconi Prize of the Marconi Society, for his fundamental contributions to technology and the establishment of the content delivery network (CDN) industry. In March 2019, he received the Visionary Award as Akamai Technology's CEO at the annual SC* Awards gala in San Francisco. The Visionary Award honors those who have shaped the industry and will serve to impact the future. Akamai Technologies also took home the Best Web Application Solution Award for his Kona Site Defender web application.

*SC-Secure Computing